Europe: Convention on Violence Against Women Takes Effect in August
Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:30 AM

The Council of Europe's Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, will enter into force on August 1, 2014. The Istanbul Convention, named for its adoption in Istanbul in 2011, is Europe’s first treaty designed to combat violence against women. It requires states to focus on four primary areas: protection of victims, prevention of violence, prosecution of perpetrators and victim services, such as shelters and medical care. The Istanbul Convention will also establish an independent group of experts who will assess states parties’ compliance with the Istanbul Convention’s standards.

Entry into force of the Istanbul Convention is significant in light of a landmark report by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (“FRA”), which found that physical and sexual violence affects 62 million women across Europe. Calling on European countries to ratify the Istanbul Convention in March, FRA Director Morten Kjaerum stated, "[m]easures tackling violence against women need to be taken to a new level now.” 

On April 22, Andorra became the 10th Council of Europe (COE) member state to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which required ratification by 10 COE members in order to become legally binding. On April 23, Denmark also ratified the Convention, bringing to eleven the number of countries that have ratified the treaty, including: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain and Turkey. An additional twenty-two countries have signed the Convention, which is the first step towards ratification. The treaty will only be legally binding for those countries that have ratified it.

Compiled from: Europe Treaty on Violence Against Women to Take Effect, Human Rights Watch (April 23, 2014); Europe takes major step forward to protect women’s rights, says Secretary General Jagland, Council of Europe (April 23, 2014); Statement by the Secretary General on the 10th ratification of the Istanbul convention, Council of Europe (April 22, 2014); New Report: Violence Against Women Prevalent Across Europe, The Advocates for Human Rights (March 7, 2014).